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" Judgment of Believers "
    "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2Co5:10)

    "...each one’s work will be revealed; for the Day will declare it, because it will be disclosed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is." (1Co3:13)

    "...the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth; those who have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and those who have practiced evil, unto the resurrection of judgment." (Jn5:28-29)

In today's apostate climate of self-esteem, graeeesss and self-deification, those who call themselves "christian" do not like to speak of judgment. Preachers and prophets do not like to speak of "hell"; so they don't. They prefer their "pleasant things" (1Ki22:13, 2Ti4:3) They don't like to be "judgmental" nor to utter so-called "hate speech". Why... merely adhering strictly to the "What says the Lord" of Scripture is deemed by them to be judgmental and hateful.

We address these around here on a regular basis. Just because they say "Lord, Lord" doesn't mean they know the Lord. Just because they call themselves [c]hurch, doesn't mean they are the [C]hurch of Jesus Christ. And we speak of their judgment regularly. They are headed on the "broad way" to "destruction" (Mt7:13) into the Lake of Fire, because their names are not found in the Book of Life. (Rev20:15) The Lord will be saying to them in that day: "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who work out lawlessness!" (Mt7:23)

But what about True Believers? A subscriber recently queried with the following:

    "Can you talk about how believers are judged? Do we go through on a free pass? Or do we answer for the things done in the body? (And what does that mean?) I am finding that Christians for the most part just don't want to talk about this. Does that mean they just don't want to think about it? Or is it because they consider it to be a non issue for believers? I am confused. What do you have to say about this, as it pertains only to believers."
Let's review again: The reason "Christians" don't -want- to talk about it is because, for the most part, those thus-inclined, are -NOT- True [C]hristians. I say "for the most part" because there are True Believers in various states of faithfulness, maturity or backsliding. For a review of this is recommended "Twelve Kinds of People" [link]

But the query is made about this topic as it relates "ONLY TO BELIEVERS". In this article we will not be addressing Eternal Security, Once Saved-Always Saved, Wolves in Sheep clothing, those who put their hand on the plow and then look back and draw back (Lk9:62, Heb10:39), etc. Let's take a look at the topic, as asked. What about those who, when all is said and done, -get- to Heaven; they are not those ending up in the Lake of Fire. Thus: if you do not know the Lord, this article is not for you this month. But if you have truly repented towards God (Ac20:21), received Jesus as Savior, and are a child of God (Jn1:12): This article is for you.

In recent months I've expressed a couple of times how Salvation is a free gift (Eph2:8-9); but the Christian Life is -NOT- a FREE RIDE.

Now... just as surely as we get into a topic like this, and start getting into various Scripture passages, invariably there is going to be someone who will respond (as some do on occasion), "I was disappointed that you didn't quote -this- Book:ch:vs" What we talk about here is what the Bible's secondary theme is all about. The Bible's primary theme is Jesus Christ and how He provides Salvation to sinful man. A secondary theme is how Believers live faithfully, or not so perfectly, and their resultant rewards or judgments. So, if you think we didn't mention -all- the various passages we -might- have (along with your favorite one)... well...just READ THE BIBLE. It's in there. As Paul says about the OT record regarding Israel,

    "Now these things became examples for us..." (1Co10:6)
Exactly -what- is the "judgment seat of Christ"? And -when- does it happen? And -how-? What/when is that -day- that declares our works?

Notice with Jesus' words that the righteous are "resurrected to life", with no mention of judgment; whereas the wicked are resurrected to "judgment". "Resurrection to life" doesn't sound to me like "judgment"

We also know that the Lamb is having a "marriage supper". (Re19:9) Who is married to the Lamb? Is that not the Church; Believers; as Paul speaks of "Christ and the Church" (Eph5) A marriage supper is not a time of "judgment" for the bride, but of celebration.

There are some who suggest that the Judgment Seat of Christ happens just as the Church has been resurrected and raptured to Heaven. But that then begins the time were Christ is judging the world during the 70th week, Armageddon, etc., where God is dealing with Israel. Why would He be passing judgment on those whom He has just "received unto [Himself]" (Jn14:3) That is a time of anticipation, not feared judgment.

There is one verse that says,

    "And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He is revealed, we may have confidence and not be distanced (cowering away) from Him in shame at His coming." (1Jn2:28)
Is "The Day" a certain year/month/day (of the Gregorian calendar)? Or is it the "appointed" (Heb9:27) day when each person meets his Maker, whatever that date is for that person? (Job4:17) If all the souls of the dead were waiting in some "waiting area", waiting for that 'collective' DAY, does that not begin to sound Purgatory-esque; something Scripture does not teach. Lazarus was already "comforted" in Abraham's bosom (Lk16:25) Why would he be expecting further judgment -after- "comfort"? It says that God will "wipe away tears from all faces" (Is25:8) that there will be "no more...sorrow, nor crying" (Re21:4) Would it not be clear that whatever judgment (that might have resulted in tears of regret) had already occured, thus to suggest the follow-up "comfort"?

Paul was looking forward to being "at home with the Lord" (2Co5:8); the same one who speaks of judgment; but himself having lived in "all good conscience" (Ac23:1) and that he had "kept the faith" and was expecting the "crown of righteousness" (2Ti4:7-8)

But Paul speaks of the "fire" that tests to see of what sort each one's "work" is. Is that a -literal- "fire", as today's apostasy speaks, by which they want to become "purified"? The Lake of Fire is for those not found in the Book of Life, and if our earthly fathers know how to give good things to their children, is God going to give His children the same judgment reserved for the ungodly?

Well...in the Christian life are we building with -literal- "gold, silver and precious stones" or "wood, hay straw"? (1Co3:12) Hopefully it is not -real- "gold", because that is merely the substance of 'pavement' in the New Jerusalem. (Re21:21) Is it not -figurative-! An example of how precious metals withstand fire, but flammables get consumed. Similar to how Jesus told the example of the "talents/minas", and based on how the servants did, they were rewarded with "cities/many things". (Lk19) and praise, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Mt25)

Paul reminds us,

    "But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it dawned upon the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (1Co2:9)
The great things on earth are mere 'examples' of the Heavenly; just as the seed is a mere shadow of the plant that grows from it. (1Co15:37, Mk4:31-32) Gold is considered earth's most valuable metal, and it withstands the testing fire. In similar fashion, our good works withstand the tests.

Of what nature are these tests? A reading of Job chs 1-2 describes how God allowed satan access to test Job...on this earth.

    "But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold." (Job23:10)
On the other hand, addressing those he called "sanctified in Christ Jesus" (1Co1:2); Paul exhorts the Church at Corinth to oust an unrepentant wayward immoral member and
    "..deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (1Co5:5)
Carnal Corinth also had problems regarding the Lord's Supper, for which reason some were suffering sickness, and others were being "put to death" as they were "judged" (1Co11:30-31)

But notice that what is called "judgment" was not everlasting punishment, but a "chastening" by the Lord. (vs32) As Scripture also says,

    "For whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and whips every son whom He receives." (Heb12:6)
Notice that, just as Satan was given permission against Job, and also Peter (Lk22:31), the result is not everlasting punishment "with the world" (1Co11:32), but a testing and discipline. When the Believer undergoes God's testing, the result is that the "spirit" is "saved".
    "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been exercised by it." (Heb12:11)

    "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Pr22:6)

We (True Believers) are God's children. As long as we do not "draw back" and turn our backs on God and say, "I have no pleasure" Him (Ec12:1), there is NOTHING that will "separate us from the love of Christ" (Rom8:35) And so, as we traverse this earthly path, He continually guides us.

Now if we get that stubborn streak in our heads and refuse correction, and yet, like the prodigal son say, "give me the portion of the estate that belongs to me" (Lk15:12), and run off on our own; and perhaps the Lord needs to take us prematurely in death, we still are "saved, yet so as through fire" (1Co3:15)

In such a case a person's life is a total loss; but they ARE SAVED. But they have the demotion and regret of not receiving rewards.

But those who receive correction, and diligently follow the Lord with the whole heart, "he will receive a reward" (1Co3:14)

So...
What sorts of judgments do Believers receive? We've already noted the sickliness and pre-mature death, due to disrespecting the Lord's Supper. (1Co11:30) When one claiming to be a Believer, but who is acting like the world is "delivered to satan" (1Co5;5), what is the nature of that "destruction" of their "flesh"? In that chapter it was sexual sins. Perhaps the contracting of STDs, and the ultimate result...death? What happens if a Believer decides to participate in sleazy business dealings and/or with certain unsavory characters of the world, and finds themself in deep doodoo? Perhaps their judgment is an untimely death at the hands of satan's followers, resulting from the activities they decided to engage in? And due to their chosen lifestyle, they obviously had not witnessed for the Lord...no rewards. When Moses disrespected God at the Rock, the waters of Meribah, his judgment was that he died prematurely and didn't get to go into the promised land. (Nu20:12) When David sinned with Bathsheba, he had political and family problems. (2Sa12:10) And yet, at his death, his record was, except for this matter, his life had been "right in the eyes of Jehovah" (1Ki15:5)

Even somebody like Paul the apostle had a little problem with pride.

    "And so that I should not be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan that he might buffet me, that I should not be made haughty." (2Co12:7)
What was Paul's "thorn"? There have been many speculations, including the possibility that his eyesite was poor, judging from his comments in Ga4:15 But in truth, it is not specifically spelled out.

But notice how, just as he exhorts the turning over of a wayward Believer to satan, for the destruction of the flesh; even God's gentle nudgings to keep Paul in line was a job given to satan. No, I don't understand it...why God would use Satan, His arch-enemy, to be involved in the correction of His own children and servants.

No, if we get arthritis, chronic blood pressure issues, or other ailments, those are not "crosses...that we must bear". First of all, any physical ailment is a result of sin, and is part of the death process, as promised by God: "You shall die the death" (Ge2:17) Thus, throughout life people will get sick; just because: We're people.

But also: Something many (so-called) "christians" fail to understand is that disease might be for a couple other reasons, too. Either in judgment for disobedience to God; or as with Paul, the little 'nudge' effect to keep us in line. In such cases, the infirmities are not the "cross" that we take up in following Jesus; but rather, are the 'consequences' because we were NOT following Him as we should, or because we have personal tendencies to wander off on our own, and it is God's way of keeping us in check.

No... Not health, wealth and prosperity... just because it was named and claimed. And that is also why most of those being "heeeeealed!!" at the popular meetings are not really healed...but some, when they go home and stop taking their medications...-die-. They are not following God, but their own sinful lusts.

So now...
If some of these disciplinary duties are given to Satan, then it seems obvious to me that these things happening in this life by way of judgment are not the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Just a thought, here, on the other hand...
If Satan is the "accuser of our brethren, who accused them before God day and night" (Re12:10)... is that not the behavior of a prosecuting attorney. And where do the accusations occur? Before the Judge, in court. Is that not what was going on in Job chs1-2. God was declaring Job's goodness, and satan was slamming Job before God; so God allows satan to test Job. And when Job 'passed' the test, did he not receive rewards of all his wealth, that satan had taken away, being doubled. (Job42:12)

But that is all the activity of this physical life. But Paul says we "stand" before the Judgment Seat of Christ. That sounds like more than merely a lifetime of living, but of a specific event. Living life is called our "walk". But for this event we "stand". Now if Lazarus, in Abraham's bosom was said to be "comforted", perhaps this Judgment Seat happens just -as- we pass from this life into the next?

What happens at death? The psychic world claims to have out-of-body experiences with the White Light. Some claim to see previously departed loved ones in an idyllic setting, and when they return to their bodies are allegedly exhorted to proclaim "love" to the rest of humanity. A particular false prophet, some years ago, in his 'testimony', was alleged to have had an out-of-body experience during which he saw a "cross", "waving its arms", streaming "rays of love" towards the individual. Of course, that same prophet, claiming that the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords at the White House was fulfillment of Dan9:27, now that we are in 2008, and those prophecies have yet to be fulfilled, has been proven to be a false prophet.

When satan is finished testing Job, and God comes to address him, one of the questions God asks Job is:

    "Have the gates of death been disclosed to you? Or have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?" (Job38:17)
Now, we do have the record of one Believer's death in a most unique manner. Just as Stephen is about to give his life as the first Church-age martyr, it is recorded:
    "But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into Heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the Heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." (Ac7:55-56)
For whom do people -stand-? For those being honored and shown respect. It used to be that gentlemen would stand when a lady would enter the room, or be seated at the table. At a funeral, when the casket is moved, the audience rises to their feet. When the president enters the press room, the reporters show the formality of respect for the office by standing.

For whom would the King of kings and Lord of lords stand? If Jesus Christ is "far above all the heavens" (Eph4:10), what would cause Him to rise to His feet? When one of His children was giving his life in martyrdom..?

I suspect Stephen did not "lose" his reward. (2Jn1:8) If it is the case that the Judgment Seat of Christ is at the moment of our physical death, as we pass through the "gates of death", in Stephen's case Jesus -stood- to receive him. The sign of deep respect.

If for some reason we don't continue till the Rapture, and we find ourselves passing through the Gates of Death, what will we see on the other side? Is our life such that Jesus might be standing to receive us? Or will our death be related to just deserts because of sinful activity, and we wake up on the other side, on our face in shame before a seated Christ, having -just- been stabbed or shot for evil behavior? So to speak: caught with our pants down?

    "..according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death." (Php1:20)
Amen!
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